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They do it for the love of books

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Librarian at a public library in Ashok Nagar.
Librarian at a public library in Ashok Nagar.

K. Lakshmi

CHENNAI: They spend long hours amid the rows of books. Yet reading any one of them for leisure is a luxury for them. Librarians, the backbone of libraries, can track down and get books from the shelves in a jiffy.

Though the profession might seem to be drab, their top of the mind recall of books is something that amazes many.

Several librarians have taken up the profession for their love of books. Kalyani Sridhar who works in the library of a private school in Saidapet said, “I help children pick up good titles. Over the past decade, I have seen a change in the taste of students. They watch characters in films or cartoons and then come back to read about them books out of curiosity,” she said.

“I feel happy when students acknowledge my support in getting them information for their studies or competitions,” she said.

For those working in public libraries, the volume of books to be taken care of is more and so is their work. A degree in library science is essential to get the job. Inadequate staff members and less salary add to their burden. Some of them began visiting libraries to read books that they cannot afford and took a liking to the profession.

K.Deenadalayan, a librarian at the Circle Library in Ashok Nagar, said, “On an average, about 1,450 people visit our library daily. Earlier, I used to spend more than an hour writing various registers after library hours. Computers have made a few things easier.”

Cataloguing books is another important aspect of their jobs. Librarians use colon classification with alphabets or decimal classification to list publications according to their genre.

“Some visitors argue with us when we ask them not to sleep or stop using mobile phones. We convince them about the rules instead of getting annoyed,” according to Mr.Deenadalayan.

Librarians at Connemara library, which has a whopping 6.75 lakh books, cherish their experience spanning over decades as they cater to people from different walks of life, including politicians. Preventing book theft is a major challenge for many librarians. They often have to pay from their pockets for book theft during transfer and retirement. Some of them are affected with dust allergy.

Private and foreign libraries pitch in whenever visitors want latest books. A.Govindarajan, who owns a private library in Velachery, said “This job is not remunerative. The deposit collected from members does not cover expense of book theft.” Yet, he is satisfied to help people read their favourite books and he recalls how a customer was depressed when she shifted from the city.

Many librarians said they cannot resist reading excerpts from new books and sometimes are the first to borrow them.

They also act as a guide for students who refer books. V.Bhuvaneswari of British Council said, “We have sophisticated technology that has reduced the work burden. But, I enjoyed working in the reference section that meant more interaction with people.”

Many librarians said they cannot resist reading excerpts from new books

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